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Night Screams (1988)
Movie Review by Professor Corpse Rot

Night Screams (1988) Trying to fairly evaluate a film this far down the totem pole is a pretty difficult task - it's no secret how poorly-made it'll be and leaves you comparing it to weaker selections in order to justify a viewing of it. Night Screams is a title, like some of the others I've reviewed thus far, that arrived late to the game and was immediately engulfed by the ever-growing Slasher cesspool. Whether it was looked at as an exercise in futility or a point of experimentation directors were forced to introduce something new and shocking to grab audiences or release the same old drivel in order to gain back what was spent. I can boldly say that Night Screams is not a good film; it sucks, to be honest, but somehow the premise isn't all that far-fetched.

The film sets the stage with a married couple watching Graduation Day on television (now you can see why I reviewed these films back-to-back, eh?). While the husband is outside preparing hamburgers on the grill his wife is stabbed to death by an intruder. After he notices the body he immediately calls the authorities; the call is cut short when he is murdered in turn. The story shifts its focus to David, the star of the local high school football team who's pressured by the presence of a scout from Oklahoma University. David and his friends decide to throw a party at his parent's house in celebration of his achievement. Meanwhile, across town, two mental asylum escapees kill a few police officers and after they arrive in town, hide out in David's basement. Added to this complex equation is David's mental state; prone to bouts of anger without his prescribed pills. With the maniacal duo hidden away in the cellar, David's volatile temperament, and the demented knife- wielder, who is responsible for the deaths of the party-goers?

I mentioned a moment ago the inclusion of archival footage of Graduation Day. The initial thing that occurred to me was, "...of all the movies to reference, why that one?" I wish I had an explanation. If you haven't seen the murderous segments from Graduation Day, fear not! Night Screams does a fine job of spoiling them for you - I suppose it's not much of a let-down anyway. After several wasted minutes of this in the opening segment the husband displays the most hysterical reaction to his wife's murder...I don't think it's possible to sound any less shocked. Speaking of less than shocking, the quality of his deliverance doesn't come as much of a surprise since the majority of the cast debuted their acting talents with this movie.

In the same swift motion, they exited the business - even the director, Allen Plone, would only make three more films after Night Screams (spread out over the span of 12 years). The only actor worth mentioning in this affair is Ron Thomas. Viewers may recognize him as "Bobby Brown" from The Karate Kid parts 1 & 2; certainly not the most prestigious credentials but among the other bit players featured in this film he comes across as a master of the arts.

The audio, specifically the intro music, is laughably bad. I can envision the composer's son sneaking into the recording studio, laying down a few stock tracks, and messing around with the volume dials. It's rickety and experimental sounding; an experiment gone terribly awry. Clearly, the composer's body of work in this feature is an uninspiring, synth-based cling-a-clanged crescendo of awfulness. Whoever had the displeasure of being the first to listen to this monstrosity would have been better off reproducing similar sounds by throwing a few pots and pans into the dryer and walking off the set.

The herrings displayed in Night Screams aren't vividly red; they are dressed up in nice little outfits so you aren't aware of their intended purpose. You may feel that your intelligence is underestimated with the use of obvious over-aged guys and gals to portray high-schoolers. It's really that bad. I seem to make this complaint with every Slasher that I review but the creators of Night Screams must've desperately been in search for actors and actresses that appeared age-appropriate. For instance, the football locker room in the beginning of the film looks like a police precinct with all of the bravado, extreme chest hair, and mustaches to go around. Even David, the film's star character, looks as if he's been married with a kid for a few years with another on the way.

Night Screams isn't as bad as I predicted. The production values are bottom-of-the-barrel stuff. The acting is mostly crappy and the use of special effects is limited because of the angles used during the death sequences. While there are many cliches to point and laugh at Night Screams tried its little heart out despite the lack of budget. It's a disgraceful movie for sure but at least they tried. I've chosen to happily accept their sentiment but I'll never watch the movie again.

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